Question about 2003 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

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Noise Under Hood

Yesterday I began hearing a noise under the hood of my 2003 VW Jetta TDI..It seems like it's coming from a belt pulley assembly, but obviously, I'm not a mechanic, so I'm not sure. The closest VW mechanic is an hour away, and I don't want to drive it if this noise is an indication of something majorly wrong. Please help!

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  • Leslie Carter
    Leslie Carter Jun 23, 2008

    Thank you for your posts...Well, I took it up to a mechanic that supposedly specializes in VW's...Mind you it was 40 minutes away from where I live on the Oregon Coast. I called a tow truck and paid $215 to get it there, as the sound was so loud and "scary" that I didn't feel comfortable driving it like that...I didn't want to take the chance of damaging the car further, so broke down and called the tow company.

    Got the car to the mechanic and when they called me back later on the afternoon, the guy said it was the Serpentine Belt Pulley?, so I had him go ahead and replace it...The next day when I got home, I had a message from the shop asking me to call them. I called, and he tells me the Timing Belt, Idlers and Tensioners are extremely worn and had quite the build up on them....Well, it had been too long since I've had maintenance done on the timing belt, so I told him to go ahead and replace all those parts (I had a timing belt go out on a Subaru many years ago, and it wasn't fun being stuck on the side of the road in the middle of no where...:) Well, the next day when I called them to find out about my car, the guy tells me the Alternator is bad, and needs to be replaced...Holy Cow are they expensive! And that the carbon build up in the Intake Manifold was really bad (I knew this already, as my brother in law had mentioned this was quite common in TDI's, so I told him to go ahead, and at that time, wondered if I'd ever get my car back! I was renting a car for $60 a day, and didn't relish the thought of having to pay much more for it! I called towards the end of the third day again to find out how things were going with the car, and they said it was ready! YEAH!!!

    Turned in the rental car, picked up my car...began driving it home...Got half way home and the car began experiencing a slight tugging or lurching...It also seemed to have more trouble excellerating after 50mph...I got it home, got out while the engine was still running, and heard an intermitent "thunk" under the hood...I turned off the car....As it was a friday, the shop was already closed. so I was SOL. The following day, I thought, well, I'll start it up and see if it was just me being paranoid, or if my feelings about the car were in fact justified....THEY WERE JUSTIFIED!!! Blue smoke came billowing out of my exhaust and the slight "thunk" was still there. I thought maybe the smoke was because it was a bit cool, so I let it idle for a minute thinking the smoke would clear..,.It didn't. I turned the engine off, waited about 5 minutes, turned it on again, and the same thing happened, the smoke continued to pour out of the exhaust pipe, and I reved it just a little to see if it would clear, and again, it didn't...It nearly looked like a darned house fire when I looked back to see if it had cleared or not! *sigh*

    So you can imagine my frustration...After paying $1700 for all those repairs, $215 for the tow, and another $200 for the rental car....I couldn't drive my car!!!!!

    I called the shop this morning (monday) and the guy, I feel, really didn't take ownership of this problem...He said he'd call me back this afternoon to let me know how we could get the car back to the shop...I will not pay another dime for towing or further repair...I'm thoroughly frustrated as you can posssibly imagine...Anyway...I appreciate all this feedback...It makes me feel better about the "repairs" that have been done so far. Thank you!



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I would be most suspicious of the alternator pulley. These are known to have issues and will at some point just come off. You may want to check out this thread on

Hope that helps.

BTW you can drive the car without that belt until the battery dies, you just won't have power steering or AC.

Posted on Jun 20, 2008

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Hi there!

I'll have a go for you but I'm working in the dark here - it could be over 50 different faults! - Lets rule out a few.

Is the car behaving differently - or just making a noise?
Has it been serviced in the last 8 months?
Do you have power steering?
Do you have Air Con ?

I would say it may be an air-con pump, power steering pump, water pump or belt idler at the moment.

In the engine bay - are there....
Any leaks of fluid?
Any dry powdery rust marks around the pullies?

This may not be a serious fault at the moment, but may be the start of a wear problem.
Let me know the answers to the above to try and narrow it down for you.

Posted on Jun 17, 2008

  • Richard Perkins
    Richard Perkins Jun 23, 2008


    Well i was right about the belt idler.

    These often end up running dry and squeeking.

    I'm sorry this has cost you so much and still isn't fixed.

    However, you do have a new timing belt - which is always reasuring.

    I think there is now a problem with the timing - I would even go as far as to say they have not put the belt on right!

    If you can find somewhere else that will do an engineers report on it - particularly the timing belt, then you will have a proper leg to stand on.

    The noise may be timing related, and may be connected to the excessive blue smoke. It could be pre-ignition of oil vapour before the fuel is injected.

    This could be from a damaged valvestem seal - which may have been at the very start of your problems!

    If the timing is way off, the inlet valve will not open before the piston starts decending - which creates a vacuum. A blown valve stem seal will alow oil from the rocker gallery to get sucked in there before the inlet opens. When compressed again, it will pre-ignite before the diesel is injected - causing the "thonk" you hear.

    Get a report, head off - replace valve stem seals, and set correct timing. Take issue with #1 garage and problems sorted.



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